Volkswagen ID.3 review

Category: Electric car

Section: Performance & drive

Available fuel types:electric
Available colours:
Volkswagen ID.3 2021 wide rear cornering
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RRP £30,870What Car? Target Price from£30,342
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The entry-level battery is the Pure Performance 45kWh and it's officially good for 217 miles on a single charge. It comes with a 148bhp motor that enables a claimed 0-62mph time of 8.9sec. Next up is the 58kWh battery. This supports an official range of up to 263miles, which outstrips the Nissan Leaf 62kWh (239 miles) and isn't far off the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (287 miles). 

The 58kWh battery is available with two power outputs. In the Pro it's 143bhp, but if you opt for our recommended Pro Performance it has 201bhp, delivering 0-62mph in 7.3sec. That's some way off the pace of the Model 3 Stand Range Plus and more comparable with the fastest Leaf, but it still has typically instant electric car surge off the line. As the speed rises beyond 60mph that the rate of acceleration tails off although there’s enough poke to ensure you're not out of puff in the fast lane. 

Finally, the larger Pro S 77kWh battery powers the same 201bhp motor (0-62mph takes 7.9sec because it's heavier) but it can do up to 336 miles on a charge. That's up at the sharp end of EV ranges that are available today. 

Suspension and ride comfort

A big, heavy battery requires a stiff suspension set-up to support it, so don’t expect the ID.3 to offer Volkswagen Golf-levels of ride comfort. It’s far from harsh, polishing the pugnaciousness out of general furrows and folds at speed, but, around town particularly, it gets choppy over potholes and frequently fidgets on the motorway. 

That said, the small electric car class isn’t exactly stuffed full of rivals that ride better. The Model 3 Standard Range Plus is also quite agitated on these surfaces (although the more expensive Performance version is definitely better than the ID.3 in this regard), while the bouncy BMW i3 and jittery Leaf 62kWh are even less settled than the ID.3. However, the Honda E, Nissan Leaf 40kWh and Peugeot e-208 all do a better job of smoothing out ruts and bumps.

Volkswagen ID.3 2021 wide rear cornering

Handling

With an excellent turning circle (10.2m is around the same as a Volkswagen Up) and light steering, manoeuvring the ID.3 around town is a breeze. Beyond the urban sprawl, the steering is accurate and sensibly geared, so it’s not a flighty car to thread along B-roads, but it doesn't give much finger-tingling communication or weight build-up when cornering in the default Comfort driving mode. Hit Sport mode and you get a bit of useful extra heft to the steering, though.

Grip is decent, and, for an everyday hatchback designed to get you from A to B with little drama, the ID.3 handles just fine, with more driver engagement than you’ll find in a Renault Zoe. It will twitch at the rear if you back off the accelerator abruptly mid corner or apply a bit too much power on the way out of a tight, damp bend, but, before you keen drivers start salivating like rabid dogs, a lighter, regular hatchback, like the latest Seat Leon, is still a far more thrilling experience.

Noise and vibration

Even by electric car standards the ID.3's motor and gearbox are ultra-mute, which is amazing around town but does mean you can hear everything else that's going on at speed. And the ID.3 generates a smattering of suspension and road noise, but it's wind noise – much of it whistling through the climate control vents – that is the most noticeable breach of the peace.

It does stop well, which is always good but not something every electric car can do. You see, electric cars harvest energy to top up their battery as you lift off the accelerator, recouping precious reserves that would ordinarily be wasted as heat generated by the brakes. But trying to integrate the motor’s braking effect with the normal braking system is a hard task, often leading to a snatchy brake pedal – the Renault Zoe being a case in point.

Not with the ID.3, though: it’s easy to make smooth stops as you squeeze the brake pedal. Or, if you want, you can turn up the regenerative braking enough to slow steadily just by lifting off the accelerator alone, but the effect isn't as powerful as the 'one pedal' driving that's possible with the Leaf and Model 3.

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